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Monday, 18 February 2013 (3035490)
Post Office shake up!
by Natasha Young

POST Office has insisted it is “committed” to maintaining both a Crown branch and a main high street branch in Southport Town Centre, after proposals to shake up the service were announced.

The resort's Crown Post Office is currently the sole occupant of a building on Lord Street but has now been earmarked as a branch which could be “partnered” with a retailer, as part of the chain's business transformation programme.

A Post Office spokesperson told the Champion: “We are currently undertaking the biggest business transformation programme in the history of the Post Office. Our overall investment will maintain the size of the network and modernise branches to meet customer needs. Crown branches are a fundamental part of our long term growth strategy and need to be brought into profit (currently operating at a £40m annual loss). To maintain our high street presence we will be looking to find retail partners for 70 of our branches enabling us to stay in these locations.

”Southport Post Office has been identified as a branch that could potentially be partnered with a retailer – any move will be subject to a six week public consultation to gather the views of the local community. We are committed to having a Post Office branch within the area.

“The Post Office successfully works with many retail partners. We already have over 3,000 branches across the UK where customers are accessing services in this way. If no retail partner is found we are still committed to having a Crown Post Office within the area. This is not a closure programme and there are no compulsory redundancies planned as part of this strategy.”

Dukes ward councillor, Tony Dawson said people in the town will want to go over any proposal to move the Crown Post Office with a “fine tooth-comb”, as residents are likely to be concerned over the accessibility, opening times and range services, and the “security of provision of the service long-term.”

He added: “For now, we shall have to wait to see whether the Post Office can even find a suitable partner locally who is prepared to provide a suitable venue on acceptable terms.”

The news comes as, under a separate project, the Lord Street North Post Office inside of the town's Thorougoods shop is set to be modernised with the subpostmaster's agreement into a new “main style” branch.

The changes at the 599 Lord Street outlet, which are said to be part of Post Office's largest ever investment and support programme, will see opening hours extended by 77 hours a week as the service is available .

Post Office services will also be available seven days a week and there will be a modern open-plan retail environment.

The shop will have three serving positions, including a mixture of two screened positions and also a Post Office serving point at the retail counter which will be open between 7am and midnight each day. The service is said to be “a new concept for delivering Post Office services alongside retail transactions during shop opening hours.”

The Lord Street North Post Office will be closed for refurbishment from March 9 at 1pm until March 13, with the new-look Post office opening at 9am on March 14.

Post Office regional network manager for central England, Adrian Wales, said: “We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents in Lord Street North and we are confident that this new modern Post Office service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused during the refurbishment.”


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